The Missouri legislature is expected in the next several weeks to consider broad measures placing new limits on abortions in Missouri. Up for debate or vote are the Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act, HB 126 or its companion bill, SB 279. The legislative session ends on May 17.
The House version, sponsored by Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon and a member of Assumption Parish in O’Fallon, started as a ban on abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat; it has been amended to include other pro-life provisions, including:
• a ban on abortions at 20 weeks gestation, when an unborn child can begin to feel pain;
• enactment of the “Right to Life of the Unborn Child Act,” which would ban all abortions in Missouri if Roe vs. Wade is overturned, or a federal Human Life Amendment is adopted or a federal Human Life bill is enacted;
• a ban on abortions for reasons including Down syndrome, race or gender;
• a requirement a second custodial parent to be notified when a minor is seeking an abortion, with certain exceptions;
• an increase on medical malpractice insurance requirements for those who perform or induce abortions and adds additional insurance requirements for doctors who induce abortions using chemicals or drugs;
• recognition that “God is the author of life” and states that Missouri is a “sanctuary of life” that protects pregnant women and unborn children.
The bill has an exception in cases where the mother is at risk of death or serious physical harm. However, there is no exception for cases of rape or incest.
Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis and a member of St. Gianna Parish in Wentzville, is sponsoring SB 279, an identical bill in the Senate. He said the measure is “undoubtedly the strongest pro-life bill in Missouri history and possibly the strongest pro-life bill in the country. It is certainly a momentous time in the pro-life movement.”
The Missouri Senate on April 24 also joined the House in giving initial approval to a $30 billion state budget, which includes several pro-life provisions. They include:
• Alternatives to Abortion funding: Lawmakers this year also approved almost $6.5 million in funding for the Alternatives to Abortion program, which provides a variety of services to pregnant women, including counseling, prenatal care, emergency housing, job placement assistance and adoption referrals when requested.
• End of Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood: Planned Parenthood will not receive funding from the state family planning program and federal Medicaid program as part of amendments written into the Missouri budget bill. This is a renewal of two amendments from last year’s budget, which state that “no funds shall be expended to any abortion facility … or any affiliate or associate thereof,” and “no funds shall be expended on any program that performs abortions or that counsels women to have an abortion other than the exceptions required by federal law.”
Catholics are urged to contact their legislators, especially their senators, in support of HB 126. To look up your senator’s contact information, see www.senate.mo.gov/LegisLookup/default.aspx/leg_lookup.aspx.